Four astronauts fly SpaceX home, completing the 5-month mission

Four astronauts from the space station returned to Earth late Saturday after a quick flight home from SpaceX.

Their capsule landed in the Gulf of Mexico just off the Florida coast.

The American-Russian-Japanese crew spent five months on the International Space Station and arrived last October. Aside from dodging space debris, the astronauts had to deal with two leaky Russian capsules docked at the orbiting outpost and the urgent delivery of a replacement ship for the station’s other crew members.

Led by NASA’s Nicole Mann, the first Native American woman to fly into space, the astronauts departed the station early Saturday morning. Less than 19 hours later, their Dragon capsule was bobbing in the sea as they awaited pickup.

Earlier in the week, strong winds and waves in the spray zones kept them on station for a few extra days. Your replacement arrived more than a week ago.

Mann, a member of Northern California’s Wailacki Round Valley Indian Tribes, said she can’t wait to feel the wind on her face, smell fresh grass and enjoy delicious food from Earth.

Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata craved sushi, while Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina craved to drink hot tea “from a real mug, not a plastic bag.”

Getting a rescue dog for his family was on NASA astronaut Josh Cassada’s to-do list. “Please don’t tell our two cats,” he joked before exiting the space station.

Three Americans, three Russians and one from the United Arab Emirates remain on the space station.

Wakata, Japan’s space travel champion, has now completed more than 500 days in space across five missions dating back to NASA’s Shuttle era.

___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content. Four astronauts fly SpaceX home, completing the 5-month mission

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